It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Sure, that’s true, but the start is awfully important too.
Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 6, Gigantes del Cibao 4
Omar Luna has officially been benched for the Aguilas, with Joaquin Arias starting in his place at shortstop and batting second on Sunday. Will it be a one-day thing or the start of a trend? In any event, Manny Ramirez went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI for Cibaenas while Rhyne Hughes went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI for Cibao.
Tigres del Licey 6, Leones del Escogido 4
Jesus Colome tossed a great 7th inning for Licey, striking out the side while working around a hit. He’s been really hit-or-miss in the DWL, managing a 4.97 ERA on the season- sounds like the way he pitched in the big leagues, where his career ERA was 4.69 despite electric stuff.
Mexican Pacific League: Naranjeros de Hermosillo 7, Mayos de Navojoa 1
Three ex-Rays in this one, but nothing too exciting going on here. Jorge Cantu and Humberto Cota went 0 for 2 with 2 walks and a run scored for Hermosillo, with Cota also driving in a run, while Wes Bankston went 0 for 3 with a walk. If you’re keeping score, that’s a .000 batting average among the three but a .385 on-base percentage. Cota is hitting just .211 but is tied for 10th in the league with 20 walks.
Yaquis de Obregon 6, Venados de Mazatlan 4
Iker Franco stayed blisteringly hot, going 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. He has a .414/.470/.793 line in his last 10 games with 2 doubles, 3 homers, 9 RBI, and 6 strikeouts against 6 walks, raises his average on the season from .211 to .267 in the process.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico): Criollos de Caguas 5, Gigantes de Carolina 4
For the second straight start, Scott Kazmir struggled in the first inning. This time, he could not recover to get his outing back together. Kazmir was disastrous early on, walking 3 in the first inning on his way to allowing 3 runs. He did pitch well the rest of his outing, allowing just 2 hits and 1 run over the next 4 innings, but his final line was not so good. Kazmir went 5 innings allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 4 and posting a 6-9 groundball to flyball ratio. Not everything was so bad- for instance, listen to the run-scoring hits against Kazmir: a bloop 2-run single and an infield single to first base. Kazmir was also starting on 9 days’ rest after a rainout and that had to play a factor in throwing him off. Kazmir has to find a way to come out stronger in the first inning, but his stuff is getting back up to par and hopefully this start can be a learning experience for him. Jesus Feliciano also appeared in this game for Carolina, going 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI.
Venezuelan Winter League: Leones de Caracas 4, Bravos de Margarita 2
No Henry Wrigley again for Caracas as a stomach ailment continues to bother him. Daniel Mayora did get into the game for Caracas, going 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored, and Sean Burroughs went 1 for 3 with a walk for Margarita. Victor Zambrano made an appeared for Caracas but had a rough time out, allowing a run in just a third of an inning, striking out 1 but walking 3.
Navegantes de Magallanes 12, Tigres de Aragua 4
Erold Andrus was the only Rays-related player to start for Magallanes, going 1 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Leslie Anderson has apparently fallen out of favor with the club (having no power and no patience can do that). But the story of this game was Chris Nowak, who pinch-hit for Mario Lisson in the 4th inning and ended up with 4 plate appearances in the game, going 2 for 4 with 2 homers and 3 RBI, with the first being a go-ahead solo shot in the 6th inning to make it 4-3 Magallanes and the latter topping off the scoring for the Navegantes. Nowak, coming off a big season at Independent Ball, is having a big season for the Navegantes, posting a .303/.436/.551 line with 4 doubles, 6 homers, 15 RBI, and 17 strikeouts against 16 walks in 28 games. The Navegantes may want to consider starting him. Nowak may be positioning himself for a minor league offer from a big league team, and given the Rays’ need at first base, they might be an option for him after he spent 6 and a half years in their organization from 2004 to 2010.